From Avatars to Allies

Whirlwinds of activity and excitement seem to be becoming somewhat of a theme this year, and this long weekend was another fantastic ride through foreign streets accompanied by friends from afar. I left the city late Friday afternoon (on what was possibly the most claustrophobic, teensy little plane I’ve ever been on – we had to move three passengers plus luggage to the back of the jet so the weight was spread evenly enough for takeoff!) and watched an orange sun illuminate the sky as we rode, sandwiched between two layers of cloud, through a glowing dreamscape down towards the coastline of Chicago. There’s something to be said about solitary travel – it’s a great time, with no distractions, for seeing the world from a new perspective, and for inner reflection. I arrived in O’Hare airport where I was soon met by two ladies I’ve known only in the realms of cyberspace for the last year or so, who greeted me with a gigantic squeeze and my first ever welcome sign, made with the help of our fabulous hotel concierge, Ian.

We took the L train (JUST like in Time Traveller’s Wife!) downtown, noshed up, and soaked up the experience of finally meeting each other in the flesh for the first time. In the last year, I’ve exchanged (sometimes daily) emails, text messages, phone calls and Skype dates with these girls more often than I have most people I know in real life. Seeing a relationship built through technology come to life in the real world was a surreal and wonderful experience, and we spent the next three days taking on the Windy City in style.* We walked for miles, taking in landmarks, amazing food, my first sangria, and truly breathtaking architecture. My heart was literally swooning as we trekked through downtown, surrounded by culture, life, and gorgeous towers soaring toward the sky. Every American I met was an absolute sweetheart, especially our fantastic doorman at the hotel, “Showtime”, whose enthusiasm and genuine love for life spilled out at the seams. He sent us off every night with a hug, a laugh, and a coupon for something wonderful.

We explored fancy shops and dreamed of being able to clean out places full of beautiful clothes and ornate houseware. We found original Glee costumes, had movie pyjama parties (complete with an unfortunate case of The Titanics, in which I bawled my eyes out for a good twenty minutes and proceeded to get VERY much laughed at :)), soared 103 storeys into the sky and braved the glass bottomed boxes looking down on the city below. We adorned ourselves with silk roses and crystal penguins, and I realised that five inch heels can simultaneously be a girl’s best friend and mortal enemy. We got lost in countless book shops, both modern and vintage, where I found myself wishing luggage would come in TARDIS form. We found the most amazing little sci-fi coffee house, plastered with oversized eighties film posters, with stuffed models of ET and ninja turtles perched atop every surface. I met even more bloggers, old friends and new ones, toured the local brewery, and witnessed the fastest and most inopportune blackout I’ve ever seen. The three days went by in a flash, but there was something quite magical about this trip.

If it weren’t for blogging, I would never have met five of the people in this photograph. I’ve always written, but I’ve only been properly blogging for about a year now, and some of the relationships I’ve been blessed enough to develop have become some of the most treasured in my life. Friends who are on speed dial, ready to cheer you on, or to defend against runaway snotrockets (new readers: yes, it happened, yes, it was in the face). Friends who’ve given me opportunities to help make the world a better place. Friends who send surprise cards, letters, and handmade gifts in the post, and friends who’ll happily exchange nerdy Doctor Who stories for hours on end. The world can seem an awfully vast place, but thanks to this online community, can seem rather comfortable… and not quite so big after all. Seeing the voices you’ve known so long through words and photographs on screens come to life was an amazing experience, and I only wish I’d had more time to fully spend with each and every one of these fantastic people. Chicago was an absolutely stunning city, and I have no doubt I’ll be heading back before too long. I arrived home after a plane ride accompanied by snapshots and science magazines, in one happy, exhausted, and exhilarated piece. Thank you Chicago, for capturing my heart, and thank you to everyone I was lucky enough to meet this weekend… who proved once again just how brilliant this online community really is.Β  Until next time… πŸ™‚

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50 comments

  1. Sounds like you had a fantastic time! I get to do this in October but in New York. I can not wait. Experiences like this one will help you grow as a person and give you great memories at the same time!

  2. It sounds amazing! You seem incredibly happy in all your photographs!

    I’ve been blogging for a number of years now and it’s strange (and stunningly beautiful) how many strong relationships I’ve formed and sustained because of the Internet. It’s amazing to see how much people care about you, how complete strangers can make your day, how they can make it all seem OK. How they can be some of your best friends.

    Amazing.

  3. i love it!! it sounds like a modern day love story!! not romantic of course, but something better. it’s truly amazing the types of connections we can find out there.

    1. I remember the first time I sent someone a message on Facebook, and we started sharing interests and histories and dreams, and it may not have been a conventional way to start a friendship, but it’s turned into one of my life’s best. I love how connected we can become over the Internet, and the anticipation of seeing these people (and the experience itself) is amazing! πŸ™‚

  4. I think you just made a huge point. Our world’s getting bigger and bigger by the second as we fill it up with people and junk and more people and more junk, but technology is now actually bringing us together. It’s connecting people countries apart and letting them form relationships and share stories. It’s something that makes it hard for us to say the technological innovations we’re constantly waiting for are nothing short of useless. How can they be, when you get to have such a wonderful experience?

  5. As a Chicagoan, I love hearing about Chicago through the eyes of a visitor. It reminds me how great of a city it really is and not to take it for granted.

    I also love how blogging has connected so many people! It really is amazing and makes the world seem so much smaller (and friendlier!).

    1. And to elaborate on my point about it being a small world: Through clicking the links on your blog, I’m just realizing that Phampants went to the same university I did for part of my schooling, and I’m pretty sure I know some of his friends! Such a small world πŸ™‚

  6. beautiful post em. you have a great way with words and captured this weekend wonderfully. also, love the photos. very fitting with the look of your blog!

    i have to agree with what kaleigh said, technology has had a bad rap for a while but its allowing us to stay in touch and develop friendships way easier than we used to be able to. i can’t imagine how fun it must have been to see them in real life for the first time!

  7. I MISS you so much all ready!! This weekend could not have been better.

    I started blogging to meet people like you and Ash. This little meet-up was beyond anything I thought could happen.

    Love you BILLIONS!

    1. Thank you SO much for being even more awesome than I was imagining. I wish we’d have had longer, and a few days thrown in to catch up on sleep and rest our legs a little so we could go on MORE adventures! So so wonderful to meet you… I am DEFINITELY coming back!!

  8. Seriously, tears in my eyes. What a nice post…and not just because I’m in it! πŸ™‚ I love that you had such a great time in Chicago. It is really cool to see Chicago through your eyes, and to see the pictures you took. I love it here, but seeing what I’m used to through someone else’s eyes really makes me appreciate it in a different way. I think I’m headed downtown with Chad either tomorrow or Thursday. We’re going to take Danny to Navy Pier, that’s the plan. Did you know Chad proposed on the top of the ferris wheel? We haven’t been in over a year so I’m excited to go. Glad you are home safe! Lots of love!!! πŸ™‚

    1. It was AMAZING to meet you, you were even lovelier in person! And I loved meeting Chad too. I wish we’d had more time, even just another day – would love to have seen Navy Pier! And I had no idea he proposed on the ferris wheel – HOW romantic?! Did you cry? I would’ve!! Thank you again for being such a delight!!

  9. That sounds like an absolutely amazing trip! I want to go on a blogger meetup again soooo bad!
    Thanks for sharing your experience… this made my Tuesday morning (after yesterday’s holiday here in the US) so much easier!!

  10. The bridal dress I got is blue, and has this Y strap on top. Kinda retro, pretty cool πŸ™‚

    I’ve always wanted to go to Chicago, and I’d like to meet you as well! Jackie is the first (and only) blog friend I have met, and I remember thinking it was so great to do so!!

  11. Aw. I love blogger meetups. I haven’t been in one but hopefully, by the end of the year, me and my blog friends can get together. Your pictures look fab. I saw most of it on FB and I’m quite jealous! Haha.

  12. This post is full of such warm fuzziness, I love it! I’m so glad you had such a nice time. Chicago is a great city, I can’t wait to see it when the weather is more pleasant (I saw it in the winter–brrr!).

    1. Thanks πŸ™‚ It’s a really great city. I think even in winter I’d love it – it’d be milder than here, and I’d be reminded of all the winter scenes in the Time Traveller’s Wife πŸ™‚

  13. So true! I’ve met total strangers in the internet and now it seems as if I’ve known them long enough to be like real friends:)

    Hey, I remember the snotrocket..not a funny experience..that was so not for anyone..

    Take care!

  14. I loved reading this. It made me feel like I was right there with you. Sounds like you had an absolute blast. I wish I lived closer to all the bloggers whose blogs I read. *sigh*

  15. SO! While YOU were in tiny planes venturing off to meet wonderful people (and next time, damnnit, I better be in that mix! AUSTIN ANYONE? lol) — I was in equally tiny planes being coughed on, flying to Washington LOL.

    I’m glad you had so much fun!!!!!!!!!! xoxoxox

  16. I loved hearing about your little getaway. I haven’t met any bloggers in person yet but I do agree… the online community is amazing & awesome! We all inspire each other even in the smallest ways. πŸ™‚

  17. Pingback: 2010: Brilliance |

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